I haven’t posted a UFC prediction on this blog in quite a while. That doesn’t reflect a lack of interest in the sport on my part. I still enjoy MMA quite a bit, but for variety I haven’t had as much time to follow the sport the last couple of years. I became a big fan of MMA, and the UFC in particular, about 10 years ago. I was bullish on the growth of sport 10 years ago and I can’t say that I’m very surprised by the success the UFC has enjoyed in recent years, but I am surprised that Ronda Rousey has argueably become the biggest star in all of MMA. I first took note of Ronda several years ago, when she was fighting for StrikeForce, in the days before the UFC even had a Women’s division. I thought her combination of skill, good looks and a colorful personality would enable her to become a star, but I’m sure she has far exceeded the expectations of most, if not all, in the UFC, including Dana White.
Women’s Bantamweight Championship
Champion Ronda Rousey (-1435) 12-0
Challenger Holly Holm (+1135) 9-0
Ronda Rousey is a huge favorite in this fight and the conventional wisdom is that Rousey will again and do so quickly, using her Olympic level Judo skills to bring the fight to the ground, where she will have a great advantage against Holm, who’s forte is boxing. I think there is a great probability that the fight will go exactly that way, but Holm is former boxing champ and is the most skilled boxer that Rousey has ever faced, and she will have a slight height and reach advantage over Rousey. So, if Holm can some how keep the fight standing she may have chance to deliver punches that will KO Rousey before the champ can take her down and take advantage of her superior ground skills.
Does Holm has the take down defense needed to keep this fight standing? We will no doubt find out early in this fight. One of things that makes this fight interesting is the fact that Holm is trained by the Jackson/Winkeljohn Team in Albuquerque and they are among the best, if not the best, trainers in MMA. Has the legendary Greg Jackson devised plan that can defeat the great Ronda Rousey and does Holm have the athletic ability to execute the plan?
Both fighters are smart and play to their strengths. Rousey has no interest in prolonging fights. She usually goes right for the kill and brings it to an end as soon as possible, usually by submitting her opponent by armbar, her signature move. Rousey won her last fight by KO in the first round, delivering a flurry of quick blows that overwhelmed her opponent and dropped her to the canvas in first round. In that fight Rousey wanted to demonstrate that she could win in a fashion other then armbar and she did in impressive fashion. However, I don’t think Rousey will try that approach versus Holm. Again, she doesn’t want to turn this into a boxing match.
Holm also tries to fight in an efficient manner. Earlier this year, after one her UFC fights, I read that Holm said that she was glad that she did not win “Fight of the Night” and the prize money that goes with that award because that would mean she took too much damage. I thought that was an interesting remark and revealed a level of maturity usually not seen in most fighters with a relatively small number of fights under their belt. This fight will only be Holm’s 3rd UFC fight, but she has won 33 out 38 boxing matches, so she is probably the most experienced opponent that Rousey has faced.
If Holm somehow pulls off the upset she will become an overnight Star in the world of MMA. I think she has a better chance of winning than the odds would suggest and she certainly represents the better betting value. However, I’m just not sure that Holm has the athletic ability and agility required to fend off Rousey’s relentless attack.
Prediction: Rousey wins by Submission (Armbar), 2nd Round.
POST FIGHT THOUGHTS:
Well, I can honestly say that am I not shocked that Ronda Rousey was dethroned. Given Ronda’s record it was very hard to pick against her and I did not, but I thought there was a distinct chance that Holm and her team would figure out a way to upset Rousey and that is indeed what happened. Holm’s superior boxing skills did serve her very well and she clearly knows how to throw an effective kick. Greg Jackson & Co. came up with a perfect game plan and Holly executed.
As I mentioned above, I thought Holm offered the better value as a bet. Gosh, if only I was in Vegas for this fight!?! That would have been a nice return on investment!!